Oi Zuki (Stepping Punch) Video 

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Oizuki (basic stepping punch)

Oizuki looks so simple. But for Shotokan karateka who follow the karate way, it’s an art form all on its own!

Indeed, lots of dojo place little importance on the intricate and detailed movement required to execute karate’s basic stepping punch (oi-zuki).

They see a step and a punch and as long as it resembles oi-zuki, that’ll do! Now lets practice it like a bunch of crazed animals!

I’m embarrassed to say it, but it’s only in the last few years that I have realized how important the small detail is, in karate. Before that, I had the, ‘hit them as hard and fast as you can’ mentality, now, that’s not all bad, more Shotokan karateka should adopt that attitude.

But as I have aged (beautifully, I may add), I have begun to realise, brute force and strength just doesn’t cut it. In fact, it just knocks you up. (British slang for tires you out).

I have trained many times with Shotokan JKA karateka, Dave Hooper Sensei 4th dan (should be 8th dan), who resides in Japan and who’s instructor is the legendary JKA senior instructor, Osaka Shihan.
I have also been training with Shihan Akio Minakami, an 8th Dan Shito Ryu master, who’s instructor was the late, great, Soke Teruo Hayashi 10th Dan.

They are both brilliant karateka who have been training longer than I have been breathing. They have both travelled different paths up the karate mountain, but their movements are very similar, natural, flowing and extremely powerful!

Not forced, brute strength, robotic, unnatural movements, like I used to do and still do sometimes.

Anyway, this article is supposed to be about oizuki (basic stepping punch), so here goes, my attempt at explaining what I have picked up from many great karate masters and how I now try and execute oizuki (when I don’t slip into ‘Conan The Destroyer’ mode).

Please don’t think I’m saying this is the only way to step, it’s just the way I have been practicing recently.

Oi zuki Stepping Punch

Stepping forward oizuki from zenkutsu dachi, gedan barai (left leg in front).

1. An initial, small but important forward movement with the front knee, whilst keeping the front foot still.
2. Drive the left shoulder, right hip and rib cage forward, at the same time keeping the right shoulder back.
3. Try pulling with the front leg as you step half way.
4. The left leg then pushes from the floor to propel the body forward.
5. At the same time the right foot lands, execute the punch.
6. At the exact time the right foot lands and the punch reaches the target, drive the left heel back into the floor tighten the muscles for a split second, especially muscles under the punching arm, abdomen and the back and inside of the thigh muscles and buttocks, them immediately relax.
7. Repeat 10,000 times, relax, less is more, don’t try to hard and good luck with the very basic, oizuki, which every experienced shotokan karateka thinks they have down!
8. Breathing should be smooth and natural, no ‘Thomas The tank Engine’ sounds.

Once this style of movement is drilled and practiced thoroughly, especially during kata training, your whole karate seems to take on a new direction.

Here’s a simple exercise working on correct oi zuki distancing Maai

To get good at anything requires practice and karate is no different. People look for short cuts to black belt and no one has any time or patience.

To get good at karate, patience is required, along with repetition. 

The sooner you master the basic fundamentals of a technique like oi zuki, the faster you will improve.

Get the technique correct, then practice, practice and more practice. 

I suppose a short cut to success would be to get the technique or kata correct as soon as possible, then repetition.

But what many karateka do is the repetition with incorrect technique, then their progression in karate takes longer because these mistakes must be corrected.

So this could be a short cut and that is, get really good technique as soon as possible, watch tutorials, study, then practice and film yourself doing Oi zuki or a kata, watch it back and compare. Oss!

Linden Huckle

About the author

Linden Huckle has been practicing and teaching karate for over 50 years and believes first and foremost, karateka should enjoy their karate. He says 'there is nothing better than seeing a person develop into a great person through their karate practice, while at the same time enjoying karate.'

Linden Huckle